October 9th, 2013
10:51 AM ET

9-Yr-Old Flier Raises Red Flags Over Airport Security

That 9-year-old Minnesota boy who slipped through security and hopped a flight to Las Vegas is no stranger to child protection investigators, who say he has a history of sneaking into a water park and was recently arrested after allegedly stealing a car, according to an e-mail obtained by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

And it turns out that his mother works at the airport where he began his journey, a source close to the situation said.

“A source with knowledge of the situation tells me that he that he will be returning here to Minneapolis, and his father who's anxious to see him says his son does have a history,” reports CNN’s George Howell.

"I don't have an angel, OK. I have a 9-year-old,” the boy's father tells CNN affiliate WCCO. "To me, he's got a behavioral problem."

The father also claims he's been asking for behavioral help since his son was five.

Internal family issues aside, the case exposes problems in airline security.

“Passing through the security checkpoints of TSA screening, an airport spokesman says surveillance video shows the child boarding the plane while the delta agent was distracted,” Howell says.

“There was another opportunity to catch up with this boy, because, of course, the flight attendants do a head count on the plane before, and then they match it to the manifest to make sure the numbers match. Well, somebody didn't do that,” says CNN National Security Analyst Fran Townsend.

Townsend says it’s possible the child had been at the airport before with his mother while she was working and people may have been familiar with him.

“In fairness to everybody involved, TSA, the gate agent, the flight attendant, you tend to be more maternal, protective of the child and less, sort of, suspicious. So I think probably that worked to this kid’s advantage,” Townsend says.

Still, she points out the lack of accountability from the airport authorities.

“And that's where people lack confidence in their government,” Townsend says. “They say, wait a minute, why don't you want to look at this an why don't you want to understand if it had been a cunning adult, could they have gotten past? I really think it's a misstep on TSA's part.”

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